Gathie Falk, Picnic with Dog, c.1976, ceramic, paint media, 60.5 x 47 x 71 cm, Vancouver Art Gallery, © Gathie Falk
Gathie Falk: Revelations
Closing January 8, 2023
At age 94, Gathie Falk (b. 1928) is one of Canada’s most beloved and esteemed artists, long known and celebrated for her pioneering achievements in painting, performance art, ceramics, and installation art. A trailblazer on all fronts, she has brought a rich sensibility to bear on her observations of the everyday, perceptions often tinged with the surreal and the uncanny. From her fruit piles to the landmark performance works of her early career, to her extended pursuit of themes and variations in her painting practice —expanses of water dazzling with light, riotous flower borders set against cement sidewalks, night skies pierced by starlight or obscured by clouds—she finds the wondrous in the routine world around her. This exhibition summarizes an extraordinary career, opening with a display of her ceramic fruit piles, with subsequent sections devoted to her early work in performance, ceramic still life, and selections from her Theatre in Black and White and Colour works which extend her notions of theatrical presentation into the realm of oil on canvas.
The show continues with a gathering of Falk’s flower border paintings and a number of paintings from her Pieces of Water series, a sumptuous immersion in her lush painterly style and lavish use of colour. Another section gathers her sculptural investigations of shoes and clothing in her art, often rendered in serial form.
Finally, the exhibition concludes with a presentation of Falk’s Night Sky paintings from the 1970s onward, accompanied by her ghostly Reclining Figure (after Henry Moore): Stella, a major sculptural work from 1999 that evokes the absent figure. This concluding gallery evokes the mysteries we face at the end of our days as we search the heavens, and contemplate the wonder of life and death, a core theme in Falk’s art making from the start.
The exhibition is accompanied by a major publication, including essays by McMichael Chief Curator Sarah Milroy, Vancouver curator and writer Daina Augaitis, artists Liz Magor and Landon Mackenzie, writer Nancy Tousley, and art historians John Geoghegan and Jocelyn Anderson.